New Zealand shares rose, led by A2 Milk Co and Air New Zealand, which has sold most of its Virgin Australia stake at a better price than the market expected, while Sky Network Television lost some of Thursday's gains

The S&P/NZX50 Index advanced 1.23 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 6971.78. Within the index, 26 stocks rose, 17 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $227.7 million.

A2 Milk Co gained 4.1 per cent to $1.53. It will move on to the ASX 200 index after the close of trading on June 17, having gained 171 per cent in the past 12 months.

"It puts it on the radar of a lot more institutional investors and exchange-traded funds," said James Smalley, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. Air New Zealand gained 2.3 per cent to $2.22. The national carrier sold a 19.98 per cent stake in Virgin Australia to Chinese company Nanshan Group, which owns Qingdao Airlines, and said it's considering options for its remaining 2.5 per cent holding (after dilution) in Australia's second-largest domestic airline.


The airline said it will sell the stake in Virgin at A33c a share, a premium to Virgin's last traded price on the ASX of A28c. It's also a premium to the A30c paid in a share placement last week by fellow Chinese group HNA for a 13 per cent stake in Virgin.

Stride Property rose 1.8 per cent to $2.265. It will list its wholly-owned subsidiary Investore Property after an initial public offering, where it will raise as much as $185 million as part of its strategy to retain its portfolio investment entity (PIE) tax status.

Sky Network Television was the worst performer, down 3.4 per cent to $5.07. The pay TV operator jumped on Thursday after announcing a planned merger with Vodafone, and there had been some profit-taking yesterday, Smalley said. "The market is still coming to terms with what this will mean." Spark New Zealand gained 1.2 per cent to $3.35, having dropped on Thursday after the Sky/Vodafone announcement. Smalley said with the stock still on a very good yield, it will always attract some buyers even with the new competitor on the scene. Fletcher Building dropped 1.7 per cent to $8.49, Meridian Energy fell 1.7 per cent to $2.585 and Summerset Group dipped 1.5 per cent to $4.63.

Outside the main index, Teamtalk shed 10.5 per cent to 60c after the listed telecommunications company issued a second-half earnings downgrade.